Bureau of Labor Statistics

Assemblers and Fabricators

assemblers and fabricators image
Assemblers and fabricators assemble both finished products and the parts that go into them.
Quick Facts: Assemblers and Fabricators
2019 Median Pay $33,710 per year
$16.21 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2019 1,883,700
Job Outlook, 2019-29 -11% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2019-29 -204,300

Summary

What Assemblers and Fabricators Do

Assemblers and fabricators build finished products and the parts that go into them.

Work Environment

Most assemblers and fabricators work in manufacturing plants. Their duties may involve long periods of standing or sitting. Most work full time, including some evenings and weekends.

How to Become an Assembler or Fabricator

The education and qualifications typically needed to enter these occupations vary by industry and employer. Although a high school diploma is enough for most jobs, experience and training are needed for advanced assembly work.

Pay

The median annual wage for assemblers and fabricators was $33,710 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of assemblers and fabricators is projected to decline 11 percent from 2019 to 2029. However, many openings are expected each year because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for assemblers and fabricators.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of assemblers and fabricators with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about assemblers and fabricators by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Assemblers and Fabricators Do

Assemblers and fabricators
Assemblers and fabricators conduct quality checks for faulty components or mistakes in the assembly process.

Assemblers and fabricators build finished products and the parts that go into them. They use handtools and machines to make vehicles, toys, electronic devices, and more.

Duties

Assemblers and fabricators typically do the following:

  • Read and understand schematics and blueprints
  • Position or align components and parts either manually or with hoists
  • Use handtools or machines to assemble parts
  • Conduct quality control checks
  • Clean and maintain work area and equipment, including tools

Assemblers and fabricators need a range of knowledge and skills. For example, assemblers putting together complex machines must be able to read detailed schematics. After determining how parts should connect, they use handtools or power tools to trim, cut, and make other adjustments to fit components together. When the parts are properly aligned, they connect them with bolts and screws, or they weld or solder pieces together.

Assemblers look for faulty components and mistakes throughout the assembly process. Such assessments help to ensure quality by allowing assemblers to fix problems before defective products are made.

Modern manufacturing systems use robots, computers, and other technologies. These systems use teams of workers to produce entire products or components.

Assemblers and fabricators may also be involved in product development. Designers and engineers may consult manufacturing workers during the design stage to improve product reliability and manufacturing efficiency. Some experienced assemblers work with designers and engineers to build prototypes or test products.

Although most assemblers and fabricators are classified as team assemblers, others specialize in producing one type of product or in doing the same or similar tasks throughout the manufacturing process.

The following are examples of types of assemblers and fabricators:

Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers fit, fasten, and install parts of airplanes, missiles, or space vehicles. These parts include the wings, landing gear, and heating and ventilating systems.

Coil winders, tapers, and finishers roll wire curs of electrical components used in electric and electronic products, including resistors, transformers, and electric motors. Using handtools, these workers also attach and trim coils or insulation.

Electrical and electronic equipment assemblers build products such as computers, electric motors, and sensing equipment. Unlike in industries with automated systems, much of the small-scale production of electronic devices for aircraft, military systems, and medical equipment must be done by hand. These workers use devices such as soldering irons.

Electromechanical equipment assemblers make and modify mechanical devices that run on electricity, such as household appliances, computer tomography scanners, and vending machines. These workers use tools such as rulers, rivet guns, and soldering irons.

Engine and machine assemblers construct and rebuild motors, turbines, and machines used in automobiles, construction and mining equipment, and power generators.

Fiberglass laminators and fabricators overlay fiberglass onto molds, forming protective surfaces for boat decks and hulls, golf cart bodies, and other products.

Structural metal fabricators and fitters cut, align, and fit together structural metal parts and may help weld or rivet the parts together.

Team assemblers rotate through different tasks on an assembly line, rather than specializing in a single task. Team members may decide how work is assigned and tasks are completed.

Timing device assemblers, adjusters, and calibrators manufacture or modify instruments that require precise measurement of time, such as clocks, watches, and chronometers.

Work Environment

Assemblers and fabricators
Assemblers and fabricators work in plants and factories.

Assemblers and fabricators held about 1.9 million jobs in 2019. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up assemblers and fabricators was distributed as follows:

Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators 1,389,100
Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers 291,700
Structural metal fabricators and fitters 78,500
Engine and other machine assemblers 45,900
Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers 43,900
Fiberglass laminators and fabricators 20,400
Coil winders, tapers, and finishers 13,000
Timing device assemblers and adjusters 1,300

The largest employers of assemblers and fabricators were as follows:

Transportation equipment manufacturing 25%
Temporary help services 12
Machinery manufacturing 10
Computer and electronic product manufacturing 9
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 8

Most assemblers and fabricators work in manufacturing plants, and working conditions vary by plant and by industry. Many physically difficult tasks, such as tightening massive bolts or moving heavy parts into position, have been automated or made easier through the use of power tools. Assembly work, however, may still involve long periods of standing, sitting, or working on ladders.

Injuries and Illnesses

Some assemblers come into contact with potentially dangerous chemicals or fumes, but ventilation systems usually minimize any harmful effects. Other assemblers come into contact with oil and grease, and their work areas may be noisy. Fiberglass laminators and fabricators are exposed to fiberglass, which may irritate the skin; these workers must wear protective gear, such as gloves and long sleeves, and must use respirators for safety.

Work Schedules

Most assemblers and fabricators work full time. Some assemblers and fabricators work in shifts, which may require evening, weekend, and night work.

How to Become an Assembler or Fabricator

Assemblers and fabricators
Assemblers and fabricators usually receive training in a specialty area.

The education and qualifications typically needed to enter these occupations vary by industry and employer. Although a high school diploma is enough for most jobs, experience and training are needed for advanced assembly work.

Education

Assemblers and fabricators typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the occupation.

Training

Workers typically receive several months of on-the-job training, sometimes including employer-sponsored technical instruction.

Skilled assemblers and fabricators may need special training or an associate’s degree, depending on the employer. For example, workers in electrical, electronic, and aircraft and motor vehicle products manufacturing typically need postsecondary education. Apprenticeship programs are also available.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA) offers certificates and training programs in fabrication, coil processing, and other related topics. Although not required, these credentials demonstrate competence and professionalism and may help a candidate advance in the occupation.

In addition, many employers, especially those in the aerospace and defense industries, require electrical and electronic assembly workers to have certifications in soldering. The Association Connecting Electronics Industries, also known as IPC, offers a number of certification programs related to electronic assembly and soldering.

Advancement

Experienced assemblers and fabricators may advance to become a supervisor or manager.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Assemblers and fabricators who make electrical and electronic products must distinguish different colors, because the wires they often work with are color coded.

Dexterity. Assemblers and fabricators should have a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination, as they must grasp, manipulate, and assemble parts and components that are often very small.

Mechanical skills. Assemblers and fabricators must have a working knowledge of basic machinery to use programmable motion-control devices, computers, and robots on the factory floor.

Physical stamina. Assemblers and fabricators must be able to stand for long periods and do repetitive tasks. Some assemblers, such as those in the aerospace industry, must frequently bend or climb ladders when assembling parts.

Physical strength. Assemblers and fabricators must be able to lift heavy components or pieces of machinery.

Technical skills. Assemblers and fabricators must understand technical manuals, blueprints, and schematics for manufacturing a range of products and machines.

Pay

Assemblers and Fabricators

Median annual wages, May 2019

Total, all occupations

$39,810

Production occupations

$36,000

Assemblers and fabricators

$33,710

 

The median annual wage for assemblers and fabricators was $33,710 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,000, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $54,660.

Median annual wages for assemblers and fabricators in May 2019 were as follows:

Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers $54,210
Engine and other machine assemblers 45,660
Structural metal fabricators and fitters 40,390
Coil winders, tapers, and finishers 36,520
Fiberglass laminators and fabricators 35,480
Timing device assemblers and adjusters 35,080
Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers 34,810
Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators 32,350

In May 2019, the median annual wages for assemblers and fabricators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Transportation equipment manufacturing $38,820
Machinery manufacturing 36,190
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 34,640
Computer and electronic product manufacturing 34,200
Temporary help services 27,390

Wages vary by industry, geographic region, skill, education level, and complexity of the machinery operated.

Most assemblers and fabricators work full time, and some work evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook

Assemblers and Fabricators

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Total, all occupations

4%

Production occupations

-4%

Assemblers and fabricators

-11%

 

Overall employment of assemblers and fabricators is projected to decline 11 percent from 2019 to 2029.

Within the manufacturing sector, employment of assemblers and fabricators will be determined largely by the growth or decline in the production of certain manufactured goods. In general, overall employment of assemblers and fabricators is projected to decline because many manufacturing sectors are expected to become more efficient and able to produce more with fewer workers.

In most manufacturing industries, improved processes, tools, and, in some cases, automation will reduce job growth. Increasingly, new advances in robotics have enabled machinery to perform more complex and delicate tasks previously performed by workers. In addition, assemblers and fabricators are increasingly working alongside robots, also known as “collaborative robotics.” These new robots can help workers perform tasks and increase efficiency. However, this increased efficiency may reduce the demand for some assemblers and fabricators.

Cheaper and more advanced robotics, along with the possibility of decreased taxes and regulations, may entice some manufacturers to bring previously offshored production back to the United States. However, the new jobs may be more highly skilled in nature and more dependent upon automated technology.

Advances in three-dimensional printing, also known as additive manufacturing, have the potential to reshape the entire manufacturing sector in the future. Entire parts or even vehicles might be produced in a single build that would require very little assembly or fabrication by hand. This technology is still emerging and may not immediately affect the demand for these workers over the coming decade.

Job Prospects

Despite projected employment declines, about 156,300 openings for assemblers and fabricators are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Qualified applicants, including those with technical vocational training and certification, are likely to have the best job opportunities.

Employment projections data for assemblers and fabricators, 2019-29

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Occupational Title

Assemblers and fabricators

SOC Code
Employment, 20191,883,700
Projected Employment, 20291,679,400
Percent Change, 2019-29-11
Numeric Change, 2019-29-204,300
Employment by Industry
Occupational Title

Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers

SOC Code51-2011
Employment, 201943,900
Projected Employment, 202936,300
Percent Change, 2019-29-17
Numeric Change, 2019-29-7,600
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Coil winders, tapers, and finishers

SOC Code51-2021
Employment, 201913,000
Projected Employment, 202910,500
Percent Change, 2019-29-19
Numeric Change, 2019-29-2,400
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers

SOC Code51-2028
Employment, 2019291,700
Projected Employment, 2029295,900
Percent Change, 2019-291
Numeric Change, 2019-294,200
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Engine and other machine assemblers

SOC Code51-2031
Employment, 201945,900
Projected Employment, 202939,000
Percent Change, 2019-29-15
Numeric Change, 2019-29-7,000
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Structural metal fabricators and fitters

SOC Code51-2041
Employment, 201978,500
Projected Employment, 202966,000
Percent Change, 2019-29-16
Numeric Change, 2019-29-12,500
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Fiberglass laminators and fabricators

SOC Code51-2051
Employment, 201920,400
Projected Employment, 202919,300
Percent Change, 2019-29-5
Numeric Change, 2019-29-1,100
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Timing device assemblers and adjusters

SOC Code51-2061
Employment, 20191,300
Projected Employment, 20291,000
Percent Change, 2019-29-22
Numeric Change, 2019-29-300
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators

SOC Code51-2090
Employment, 20191,389,100
Projected Employment, 20291,211,500
Percent Change, 2019-29-13
Numeric Change, 2019-29-177,600
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of assemblers and fabricators.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2019 MEDIAN PAY
Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers

Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights install, maintain, and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery.

High school diploma or equivalent $52,860
Metal and plastic machine workers

Metal and Plastic Machine Workers

Metal and plastic machine workers set up and operate machines that cut, shape, and form metal and plastic materials or pieces.

See How to Become One $36,990
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join, repair, or cut metal parts and products.

High school diploma or equivalent $42,490
Sheet metal workers

Sheet Metal Workers

Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets.

High school diploma or equivalent $50,400
Boilermakers

Boilermakers

Boilermakers assemble, install, maintain, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases.

High school diploma or equivalent $63,100
Structural iron and steel workers

Ironworkers

Ironworkers install structural and reinforcing iron and steel to form and support buildings, bridges, and roads.

High school diploma or equivalent $53,650

Contacts for More Info

For more information about assemblers and fabricators, including certification, training, and professional development, visit

Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International

For information about careers in manufacturing, visit

Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs

For information about certifications in electronics soldering, visit:

Association Connecting Electronics Industries

CareerOneStop

For a career video on aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers, visit:

Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging, and Systems Assemblers

For a career video on structural metal fabricators and fitters, visit

Structural Metal Fabricators and Fitters

O*NET

Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging, and Systems Assemblers

Assemblers and Fabricators, All Other

Coil Winders, Tapers, and Finishers

Electrical and Electronic Equipment Assemblers

Electromechanical Equipment Assemblers

Engine and Other Machine Assemblers

Fiberglass Laminators and Fabricators

Structural Metal Fabricators and Fitters

Team Assemblers

Timing Device Assemblers and Adjusters

Last Modified Date: Thursday, January 21, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Assemblers and Fabricators,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/assemblers-and-fabricators.htm (visited February 19, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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